Oakland City Council Wants Police Chief Out

Chauncey Bailey Project , News Report, Thomas Peele and Bob Butler Posted: Jan 27, 2009

OAKLAND — Police Chief Wayne Tucker should resign or be fired because of scandals plaguing his department, Oakland council members said Monday — a position they plan to announce at a news conference today while calling for a vote of no-confidence.

The embattled chief’s resignation had not been offered to the mayor, nor had Mayor Ron Dellums asked for it, acting City Administrator Dan Lindheim said Monday.

Tucker, 65, walked through the council chamber before Dellums’ State of the City address Monday and seemed resolute, snapping at a television photographer to get his camera “out of my face.” He said Monday he was not resigning but would not comment when asked about his future.

He quickly left City Hall after the mayor’s speech, again refusing to speak to a crowd of reporters pressing him for answers.

Council members, pointing to the department’s raft of problems — from the handling of the investigation in journalist Chauncey Bailey’s 2007 killing to the firing of a dozen officers for falsifying search warrants to reports last week that Tucker promoted a captain to be the head of the internal affairs division with a record of administrative charges for interfering in an internal affairs investigation — said Monday the department needs new leadership.

Council President Jane Brunner said she and several colleagues would discuss at a news conference the need for a no-confidence vote against Tucker. Brunner declined to discuss specifics, but others said their minds are made up and that Tucker’s four-year reign should end.

“I think that there is so much turmoil within the department that it’s time for the chief to step down and we get new leadership,” Councilmember Desley Brooks said Monday.

Councilmember Patricia Kernighan said that inside and outside the Police Department “there is no confidence in the chief.”

A report by the Chauncey Bailey Project on Friday that Tucker ignored the advice of senior officers and promoted a captain to the head of internal affairs with a major misconduct finding against him was “the last straw,” Kernighan said.

Capt. Edward Poulson was suspended with pay last week as the FBI began an investigation of his role in the 2000 death of a drug suspect, Jerry Amaro.

Amaro died a month after a minor drug arrest from complications of broken ribs and a punctured lung. He told family members and a doctor that police had beaten him. Poulson, who was involved in the arrest, was administratively found to have ordered subordinate officers to tell investigators Amaro wasn’t beaten.

Public Safety committee chairman Councilmember Larry Reid said he would speak at the news conference today.

“The whole issue is how do you regain confidence and trust in the department for the community?” Reid said.

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan said Monday: “I do not have confidence in what is going on. I don’t think we should be keeping (Tucker’s) administration. We have to take significant action. I believe the most effective way to create the change we need will be with a new police chief.”

Kaplan said the no-confidence vote could come next week, although such a move would be largely symbolic.

“It’s up to the mayor to hire and fire,” Reid said.

Dellums, in his Monday night speech, called for police reforms but did not mention Tucker.

“I want the finest police department in America,” he said, adding that he would “seek the advice of the distinguished members of the City Council” about how to remake the 800-member force.

Speaking mostly about the News Year’s morning shooting of an unarmed man for which a former BART police officer is charged with murder, Dellums called for reforms in how police use deadly force.

When a man in the audience shouted about Amaro’s death and Poulson’s assignment to internal affairs, Dellums touched on the matter without discussing specifics.

“The FBI is investigating,” Dellums said. “We told them, ‘Get on with it. Our community is teetering on the brink.’”‰”

Oakland Tribune reporters Cecily Burt and Kelly Rayburn contributed to this story.

Thomas Peele is an investigative reporter for Bay Area News Group. Bob Butler is an independent journalist. Reach them at tpeele@bayareanewsgroup.com and bobbutler7@comcast.net.



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